Registering and voting in Florida, even if you don’t have a permanent address or ID
By Andrew Fraieli
Voting is a right even if someone is experiencing homelessness. It is not necessarily more difficult to vote — or register to vote — without a permanent address, but there is more to be aware of and slightly different steps.
The are a couple prerequisites to register to vote in Florida at all:
- Being a citizen of the U.S.
- Being a Florida resident
- Being over 18
- Not having “been adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having the right to vote restored.”
- “Not have been convicted of a felony without your voting rights having been restored.”
This is all according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Time-frame wise, Florida requires registration to be complete 29 days before an election — for the presidential election that would be October 5th. Due to possible mail delays, and time for registration to be processed, registration should be done as soon as possible — the same for requesting and sending in mail-in ballots.
Before completing other steps, you can check if you’re already registered by using The Florida Department of State’s online tool requiring only a full name and birthdate. It will give the resident address and county of registration among other information.
Functionally, registration can be completed online, in-person, or through the mail.
Registering to Vote Online
Registering online requires a Florida license number or state ID number, date of issue of the license or state ID, and the last four digits of a social security number. The form can be found at Registertovoteflorida.gov/home.
If having any of those documents/numbers is an issue, you can still use the online form to prefill a voter registration, but are required to mail a printed form — see Registering to Vote by Mail.
According to Register To Vote Florida, “you also have the option to submit voter registration information online when you renew your driver’s license online through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ online renewal system.”
Registering to Vote by Mail
Registering to vote by mail requires filling out this form and mailing it to the Supervisor of Elections for your resident county. The form itself has a chart to find the correct contact information for your county, but the information can also be found on the Florida Department of State’s election website.
The form asks for a Florida license number or state ID number along with the last four digits of a society security number, but it states, “If you do not have any of these numbers, check ‘None.’ If you leave the field and box blank, your new registration may be denied.”
The form also requires a resident address — that is not a P.O. box — and a separate mailing address which could be the same. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, Florida allows sheltered and unsheltered residents to register, and Nonprofitvote.org recommends sheltered residents to put their shelter as a resident address and mailing address if possible.
For unsheltered residents, a street crossing — such as “corner of Main Street and Main Drive” — could be put for resident address, and anywhere you could receive mail for the mailing address. Both addresses must be in the same county.
Registering to Vote In-Person
According to the Florida Division of Elections, “Paper application forms may be found at any county Supervisor of Elections office, local library, or any entity authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to issue fishing, hunting, or trapping permits.”
This also includes any Department of Motor Vehicles office, military recruitment offices, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, and Department of Financial Services offices. An exhaustive list can be found here.
See Registering to Vote by Mail for information on having no permanent address and if you lack an ID.
Voting in Person
When going to the polls, Florida requests a valid photo ID with a signature. This could be a driver’s license, state ID, passport, student ID, etc. If the photo ID does not have a signature, they will ask for an additional ID that does.
If having a form of ID is not possible, Florida still allows you to cast a ballot. According to the Florida Division of Elections, “as long as you are eligible and voted in the proper precinct, your provisional ballot will count provided the signature on your provisional ballot matches the signature in your registration record.”
The correct polling station to vote at can be found on your county’s Supervisor of Elections website. All the counties and their websites can be found on the Florida Department of State’s website, and your county can be found by checking your registration status here.
Voting by Mail-in Ballot
Voting by mail in Florida requires requesting a mail-in ballot. The specific website for your county’s Supervisor of Elections office, which will have further information about how to request a mail-in ballot, can be found on the Florida Department of State’s website.
If the ballot needs to be mailed to a different address than the one used to register to vote, you’ll have to print and sign a form — which will also be on their website — with the new address to be sent back to the Supervisor of Elections office.